Fresh crunchy vegetables, sweet mango and a creamy peanut dressing all meld together in this delicious Thai Peanut Salad. Serve it as a main course or side dish. Plus, it takes just 25 minutes to make!
Thai Peanut Salad is almost guaranteed to become a family favorite! This plant-based version of my favorite Thai Chicken Salad is every bit as delicious. If your family family scoffs at eating salad as a main course, I beg you to try this recipe out on them. I first made the chicken version when my youngest son was 12 years old. He still tells me it's one of his favorite meals!
Along with the standard coleslaw ingredients - cabbage and carrots - I added jicama, mango, toasted almonds and chickpeas. But the beauty of this Thai-inspired salad is that it is endlessly versatile. Swap in different vegetables (suggestions below), use a different tropical fruit or add some seafood or meat for the carnivores in the family.
💙 What’s to love about this Thai Vegetable Salad:
▪️ FLAVOR & TEXTURE: I’m a sucker for anything that’s tossed with a Thai peanut salad dressing. And let’s not forget the crunch of a good homemade coleslaw. Plus, the chopped jicama adds extra freshness and crunch.
▪️ HEALTHY: Tons of veggies, fresh fruit, lean plant-based protein and a lightened-up Thai-inspired peanut dressing. That adds up to a healthy salad recipe that’s low in calories and saturated fat, and high in fiber.
▪️ SUPER SPEEDY! This is a vegetarian dinner salad or side dish that can be made in 25 minutes flat!
Whether you choose to serve this salad "as is" as a vegan entrée or side dish, or toss in some shredded chicken, seared shrimp or baked salmon, this recipe may just become your new favorite quick meal! It's a great option for meal prep. Just hold off on dressing it until an hour or two before serving.
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INGREDIENTS FOR THAI PEANUT SALAD:
- CABBAGE: Use a combination of Napa cabbage and red (purple) cabbage. Napa cabbage has a mellow flavor and light texture, with a wonderful crunch.
- GREEN ONIONS: Slice the green onions thinly, using both the green and white sections.
- CARROTS: Peel two large carrots and grate them on a large box grater.
- MANGO: See How to Cut a Mango for tips on dealing with the oblong pit and easily separating the fruit from the skin.
- JICAMA: Whole jicama can be found in the produce section of most well-stocked grocery stores. Admittedly, sometimes I cheat by buying pre-sliced jicama at Trader Joe’s to save myself some peeling.
- ALMONDS: Start with raw slivered almonds and toast them in a dry skillet. To double down on the "peanut" in the recipe title, substitute peanuts for the almonds.
- HERBS: Cilantro and mint are a really nice combo. If you’re not a cilantro fan, substitute with flat-leaf parsley. Sometimes I also add some thinly sliced basil.
- PEANUT BUTTER: I prefer to use natural peanut butters because they don't include fillers and preservatives. Either smooth or chunky varieties won't work in this recipe. Use a smooth peanut butter for a completely lump-free dressing.
- SOY SAUCE: Use either regular soy sauce or tamari if gluten free.
- LIME JUICE: Fresh lime juice, from 1 ½ medium-sized limes.
- RICE VINEGAR: Unseasoned rice vinegar can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
- AGAVE NECTAR: Use agave nectar, pure maple syrup or honey to sweeten the dressing. If you follow a plant-based diet, be aware that honey is not vegan.
- CHILI GARLIC SAUCE: I use chili garlic sauce A LOT, such as in my weekly batch of Homemade Stir Fry Sauce. It can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores or online. If you can't find it, use a little sriracha or a pinch or red pepper flakes.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
VEGETABLES: Add or swap in other crunchy veggies, such as cucumber, snap peas (see my Hoisin Snap Pea Slaw), red bell peppers (or another color of sweet bell pepper), raw broccoli and daikon radish. Avocado is also a great option!
FRUIT: If you aren’t a mango fan, leave it or substitute with papaya or pineapple.
ADDITIONAL PROTEIN: If you prefer a salad with more protein, add additional chickpeas or baked tofu. For non-vegan options, try shredded chicken (a rotisserie chicken is handy here) or seared shrimp.
How to make Thai Peanut Salad:
CHOP THE CABBAGE: Cut the Napa cabbage in half through the root. Lie the cabbage cut side down on a cutting board. Cut it into quarters lengthwise, root to tip, without cutting through the root. Chop across the cabbage to cut into bite-sized pieces. Use the same method for cutting the red cabbage.
CHOP THE OTHER VEGETABLES: Peel and chop the jicama. Or cheat like I do by buying pre-sliced jicama, then chop into smaller pieces. Thinly slice the green onions, using both green and white sections. Chop the cilantro (see How to Chop Parsley and Cilantro). Pile the mint leaves on top of each other, roll into a thin tube and thinly slice.
PREP THE MANGO: See How to Cut a Mango for tips on cutting around the oblong-shaped pit and chopping the fruit.
DRAIN THE CHICKPEAS: Drain the canned chickpeas in a fine mesh sieve. Rinse them well and shake to get rid of the excess water.
TOAST THE ALMONDS: Place the slivered almonds into a small dry skillet set over medium heat.
MAKE THE PEANUT DRESSING: Place all of the peanut butter dressing ingredients in a medium-sized bowls. Whisk until smooth. For dressings, I use a small whisk like this one.
TOSS TOGETHER: Combine all of the vegetables, mango, almonds, herbs and chickpeas in a very large bowl. Pour the dressing over top. Toss with tongs or clean hands. Serve it up!
Can this salad be made ahead of time?
Yes! This Thai-inspired salad is great for meal prep. However, I suggest dressing the salad shortly before serving to avoid it becoming soggy. if you’re going to eat the a few portions of the salad in the next day or two, set aside the slaw in an airtight container and the dressing in a separate container.
Dressed leftovers can be eaten the next day. The salad may not be quite as crunchy as it is when freshly made. But still perfectly edible. If any liquid has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl, strain it off.
Thai Peanut Salad Recipe
- 6 cups chopped Napa cabbage (about ½ large cabbage)
- 4 cups chopped red cabbage (about ½ medium cabbage)
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 large carrots peeled & grated
- 1 cup chopped jicama
- 1 cup chopped mango (See Note 1)
- 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed (See Note 2)
- ¼ cup slivered almonds toasted in a dry skillet
- 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- In a very large bowl, combine the Napa cabbage, red cabbage, green onions, grated carrot, jicama, mango, chickpeas, toasted almonds, cilantro and mint.
- Toss with the dressing. Serve.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, agave nectar, rice vinegar and chili garlic sauce. Whisk until smooth.
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